I am standing in the dressing room of the Gibraltar branch of Monsoon, in a floor length sequined golden gown, admiring myself in front of the mirror.
“Any good?” the shop assistant asks me, as she always does. We haven’t exactly exchanged phone numbers yet but I am certain she knows my face. I’ve handed my debit card over to her more than in the past year.
For a moment I am lost for an answer. I redirect my view from my own image in the mirror to the changing room cabin, where the potential purchases of today’s shopping spree stare at me like silent witnesses of my madness.
I have tried on: a short sequined silver dress, a 1930s blue sequined dress, an off the shoulder blue and gold asian frock, bespoke gold extravagance, and a black jersey wrap with a small pattern. Everything is 70% off and I want everything.
I can’t be quite that mad though, at least I recognize that I’m about to make a mistake here. The gold dress comes in at 67 pounds (which, coincidentally is also its weight), reduced from 200. It is, indeed amazing. I just have to get it, right?
At that price?
The problem is though, what for? My brain goes into justification mode and starts running scenarios, desperately looking for a reason why it would not be a waste of the 67 pounds and 50 pence if I got this dress now. I can’t come up with anything. If I ever wear anything out of the ordinary, it is for a wedding (way too overdressed!) or the Christmas party (way too overdressed!). I realise that the reason this wonderful gold dress hasn’t sold is exactly that – who would need it in Gibraltar, and for what.
“Yeah”, I finally respond, “they’re all good, but where on earth would I wear any of them?”
The only occasion where this gown would not look completely out of place that comes to my mind are the oscars, and I’m reasonably certain I won’t be going there anytime soon.
“I’m not invited to the oscars, unfortunately”, I finally add.
“You sound like Cinderella who can’t go to the ball!”, she exclaims. “How sad!” Do I? Am I?
“I suppose you do need an occasion though…”, she says as I hand her back ALL of the incredibly beautiful, high quality, extremely cheap ballgowns and occasion dresses.
Thing is, I’ve fallen into this trap more than once before: buying for the lifestyle I aspire, but not the lifestyle I actually have. I kept on buying summer dresses in Ireland for example, without a chance of ever wearing them in the wet island climate. I was desperately craving a good summer and I was shopping for it, with no connection to reality. Shopping for ballgowns, if you think about it, is a little bit stupid if you never go to any balls.
I leave the shop not quite empty handed, with a black jersey dress for just 16 pounds. Great quality, it will be an addition to my everyday work wardrobe. It may be sad (thanks for assuming, dear shop assistant), but work is actually a place I go to a lot, and floor length sequined golden gowns are definitely out of place in my office.